Who knew BBQ could bring so many people together?

Wille Ray Fairley knew about as well as any of us how to handle it after a devastating storm hit these parts last August. He sprung into action, taking what he does best and spreading his flair for delicious food across the community to those in need for free.

He started making national news for his giving spirit and at one point was serving up to 400 free meals a day. Another such bit of recognition came his way recently when the owner of Willie Ray's Q Shack was named one of Fortune Magazine's "50 Greatest World Leaders", according to Iowa's News Now.

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The magazine is in its 8th year of compiling this list, and in conclusion to a lengthy write-up they explained why he was chosen, saying

In a matter of days, Fairley had become an exemplary leader, which is why he’s on our 2021 list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

They noted how stories in the news and on social media began inspiring folks from around the world to learn how they could help us out, too, right here in Cedar Rapids where, as you know, our disasters don't often get the national attention they need or deserve. The Mississippi native cemented his place a true Iowan as Willie Ray rolled up his sleeves from the get-go, even as he was likely dealing with his own personal recovery from the derecho. He later took his talents to Texas to give back to residents there amid unprecedented winter storms.

You can read about the entire Fortune Magazine piece here.


PHOTOS: Massive 2020 Storm Causes Widespread Damage in Cedar Rapids

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